Published April 21, 2015
Volume 23, Number 4

Art Classes for All Ages & Talents at Ichen Art Academy
AP Classes & Summer Camps Also Offered

Ichen Art Academy
Ichen Wu, owner and art teacher, at Ichen Art Academy located in Hacienda

By Zoe Francis

Ichen Wu firmly believes that every child has a penchant for art that can be cultivated to help enrich their lives.
The Taiwan-born artist is enthusiastic about sharing her passion for Chinese and Western art at her Ichen Art Academy studios in Hacienda and Fremont.
“Art can be the best gift a parent can give their kids,” Wu said. “If kids have appreciation of everything around them, even the landscape, it will affect their life. If you have the vision and appreciation of all the beauty around you, then your life is different. It enriches your life and your personality and your happiness. Life is not black and white. It’s full of color.”
Wu has been enthralled with art since she first learned Chinese painting as a child.
“I started Chinese painting when I was 5 or 6 years old,” she recalled. “I also learned the Western-style painting like water colors and sketching, but Chinese painting is always my favorite.”
Wu moved to American in 1991 and got degrees in fine arts and interior design from the University of Dayton in Ohio. She started teaching art classes from her Fremont home when her children were young.
“I started with one or two students, but then the business grew,” Wu said. “I always had a dream to open a school. I want to have all different kinds of classes so (students) can freely pick what they want according to their level and age.”
Wu opened her first Ichen Art Academy in Fremont in January 2012. The academy drew so many students from such a wide area that she opened a second studio in Hacienda in January of this year.
“I have a lot of students who came from Pleasanton,” she said. “(Parents) want to provide the best education that they can give to their students. On the weekends, we have so many students who come from Pleasanton, San Ramon and Dublin. It’s a good time for me to open a second location.”
Wu has a staff of 10 talented artists that teaches classes at both locations. Art classes start for children as young as 5.
“The kids have a lot of imagination, especially when they are really young, but they don’t know how to express themselves,” Wu said. “When kids are young, everyone has some sort of talent. They might scribble, but they have no idea how to draw. We teach them how to compose those basic shapes together. Their work gets better and they know they can do it. It builds their confidence as well.”
The Advanced Placement (AP) art studio offered by the academy is popular with high school students taking AP art classes for college credit. The studio helps students create the 24 art pieces required for AP art.
“We teach them how to develop their ideas and how to utilize their techniques,” she said. “We teach them how to use different mediums. We help students to develop their portfolio. This class is highly creative. You not only have to present your creativity, but you have to present your technique.”
The academy’s classes are especially important in California when many schools have dropped art classes due to budget cuts.
“The kids are still required to do a lot of artwork in their school projects, like with posters,” Wu explained. (Teachers) want it presented nicely. Art helps students express themselves. If they have the skill and are willing to express themselves through art, it instills a lot more confidence.”
Summer art camps with popular animated movie themes are offered for students ages 5 to 14. Students also learn speech and debate skills at camp.
“We also teach students dedication and persistence and how to organize,” Wu said. “They need to develop their ideas and put everything together. I always tell the students that every morning when you wake up, you open your eyes and will know that everything around you is full of art.”
Learn more about Ichen Art Academy at ichenartacademy.com. Students interested in art may sign up for a free trial class.


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