How do you write an essay about art, for example, Joarez Filho's painting "Saxofonist"? 

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When writing an essay about anything, but most particularly art, it is important to look at as many details as possible and then relate them to the content of the painting. It is also a good idea to find other artworks by the artist and biographical information as well.

Joarez Filho is from Brazil, and among his paintings are a number of musicians with their instruments, all in a similar style. This suggests that music is important to him and also that one way to understand his artwork is to think about the sound of the music associated with the instruments and musicians he depicts.

One important aspect of a painting to think about is color. In “Saxofonist,” Filho uses a color palette based in brown, but with a single contrasting blue line, representing the neck strap. If you listen to the saxophone in Tom Waits' song "Small Change Got Rained On With His Own .38," you can hear the tonal range of the instrument, from clear to breathy and low. The saxophone is an evocative instrument, especially for complex emotions. The brown tones in the painting possibly relate to the earthy sound of that instrument. A horizontal rectangle of orange-brown and black is depicted near the bell of the horn and does not seem to be representing any literal object in the saxophonist's world. This possibly is related to the sound of the instrument, since it is an intensification of the basic palette of the painting.

Another factor to consider is the artist's use of line. This artist uses well-defined lines, such as those that outline the face, and sketchier lines, such as those that outline the fingers. There also seems to be a contrast between horizontal and vertical lines with just a few diagonals. Vertical lines define the face of the saxophone player and the chair he is sitting on, which is mostly vertical. Lines have a tendency to direct the viewer's eyes to the most important parts of the painting, which in this case would be the player and his horn.

Painters often use a depiction of light in their works, and in this case, the painter highlights the horn as well as the background to the left of the player. It looks as if the player is just outside of a spotlight shining on the stage, which suggests that when a person is playing an instrument, the person more or less disappears and the sound of the instrument is the most important thing for the audience.

Finally, it's a good idea to think about other paintings that might be similar to the painting you are thinking about. In this case, the one that comes to mind is Picasso's "The Old Guitarist." Like Filho, Picasso uses a limited color palette; this painting comes from a time in Picasso's career where he made paintings that were mostly blue, known as his blue period. Along with the limited palette is the fact that both paintings are of musicians and their instruments. Both also evoke a set of feelings that the music might suggest.

Sometimes when people are assigned to write an essay, they feel that they have to become repetitive in order to achieve a particular word count. In fact, if you pay attention to details and think about why the artist chose those things, you might find yourself going beyond the word limit and your teacher will appreciate the quality of your thought.

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