n icon is an encounter between the person represented and the viewer. One gazing at an icon is drawn into communion and relationship with the person represented, who gazes back at the viewer. Geometry, an aesthetic of long thin features and large eyes, limited and harmonious color palette and value range, inverse perspective—all combine in the icon to create an invitation to contemplate the timeless mystery of the Holy One. At the heart of the mystery is the incarnation, Divinity joined with humanity in Jesus Christ, the "Image of the Invisible God" (Col 1:15).
The expression "writing an icon" is often used because icons are theology and the Word of God in images. The best iconographers are highly trained in the tradition of iconography, which includes theology, spirituality and technique. A canon of iconography determines the color of garments, the type and color of hair or a beard, and specific postures or gestures. Artists drawn to iconography must learn the language of iconography (canon). Once artists commit to iconography and are called to the work by their community and the Holy spirit, they use their artistic gifts to serve the people of God through the ministry of iconography. The iconographic tradition rejects arbitrary innovation for its own sake, or for ideological purpose. Any reverence given to an image of a saint goes directly to the saint, who is a member of the communion of saints.