Maritime Art

Willem Johan Hoendervanger

My name is Willem Johan Hoendervanger (1980) and I work as an international marine artist. As an artist whose main motif is the sea, you won’t be surprised to read I have lived 15 years in Vlissingen which is situated at  the Western Scheldt delta and the North Sea, what inspires me was  a few miles away. The world’s largest ships pass Vlissingen on their way to one of the largest European ports. At this moment my studio is located in Doorwerth, the Netherlands. This peaceful area is ideal to work on my paintings. 

Vision on Maritime Art

My vision on maritime art is to make portraits of ships so that they are preserved for posterity. These paintings must stimulate the eye of the beholder and evoke a certain feeling by the viewer. Capturing a piece of Dutch (and worldwide) shipping history in the form of maritime art is my goal as a maritime artist.

Birth of a painting

There is a similarity between the birth of a ship and a painting. I start with a blank sheet of paper, the shipyard starts with a single plate of metal. A beautiful metaphor of the beginning of the ship and the painting. It remains fascinating what people can create with their hands. The launching of a ship is therefore almost a spiritual moment. For the first time a ship comes into contact with her element. Painting is also shipbuilding; bringing different parts together.

Spiritual ships

Ships are impressive machines, each with its own appearance, character and, above all, a soul. Capturing that is a beautiful process in which empathy, study and technique are important elements that together form a good ship’s portrait. Every single time it is nice to deliver tailor-made solutions to a customer who entrusts a part of his or her life to me. The final response from a customer is the best part of the whole process. A unique piece of shipping history has been captured by me for posterity.

Ship portraits

A ship’s portrait – literally a portrait of a ship – is a tradition that goes back centuries and that I would like to continue. Traditions are intrinsically linked to the maritime world and so also in maritime paintings. The ship’s portrait proudly shows the ships of the shipping company to which they belong. The work adorns the office of a shipping company or the home of a captain or other person on board. This is a wonderful tradition dating back to the 17th century. The shipping companies and clients I work for maintain this tradition together with me.

Modern Maritime Art

I think it is important that modern ships are also captured on paper or canvas. These are also part of it and will eventually become history again, which is why it is important to paint them as well. One of the reasons I became a marine artist is because I saw that most of my colleagues paid little or no attention to this. Often the argument was that modern ships are just ‘ugly shoeboxes’. That is a pity, because a seafarer who now sails on a ship does indeed have a relationship with his or her ship. This relationship has nothing to do with the development of shipping and is completely timeless.

Eternal value

Every painting I do is a unique creative creation with eternal value. A painting has the unique ability to visualize and capture a certain feeling for people. A painting is something to enjoy and invest in for a long time. A look at it every day ensures an almost enlightened state of the customer. That is perhaps the main reason why I became a maritime artist.


Most of the paintings I create are customized works in collaboration with the client. Together we arrive at a painting that perfectly matches the customer’s experience. In addition to technical aspects, it is important that the rest of the painting also appeals to the imagination. This can often be achieved with the right combination of sky, light, colour, depth and above all the sea. Every ship – and therefore every painting – is different and tells a different story. This is what you see when you look at my paintings. I never paint a standard sea or sky, in my opinion that would be an insult to my clients.

Satisfied customers

My clients are very diverse, from young to old, male or female, from shipping companies to people who have a relationship with a particular ship. The ships they have sailed on never leave their minds and have often left a deep impression, it is no coincidence that they refer to them as ‘their’ ship. I am able to capture the feeling that a ship has given – or still gives – them and capture the love for it in a work of art.

Gained experience

Because of my experience that I gathered by working with various shippingcompanies and clients all over the world, I am the right person to make one or more paintings that together tell the story of the shipowner and his / her ship. I have gained experience by painting for years, finishing the art academy as well as continuing to study and above all looking closely at ships. I paint in a realistic style. The ships I paint must resemble, that is the starting point. However, the artistic element is the most important aspect of my paintings.

First step towards a painting

I hope you will enjoy visiting my website. Please do realize that I do not only paint oceanliners, but almost anything that floats, from yachts to the largest containerships in the world and everything in between. Contact me to take the first step of this fascinating journey with me.