Passional painter: Carmel resident donates watercolors to nonprofit


Susan Langeman found it’s never too late to master a new skill.

The 82-year-old Carmel resident took up painting with watercolors five years ago.

“I had never done watercolors before and it was always kind of intimidating to me, but I love it. It’s really nice,” Langeman said

Langeman said there was a group at PrimeLife Enrichment in Carmel painting with watercolors.

“I’ve done oils and that is really easy,” Langeman said. “I really liked that, but I thought I’d be afraid because once you put it on, it’s on. It’s not like oils. I started with it, and it’s been wonderful. I really enjoy it.”

She takes a 2 1/2-hour class on Wednesdays at PrimeLife.

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Susan Langeman works on her watercolors at her Carmel home. (Photo by Adam Seif)

Langeman displays her paintings at PrimeLife and she has donated them to the Indiana Wish Fund, which auctions the paintings off and keeps the proceeds.

“The first one I did was a head of a lady with lots of colored hair,” she said. “It was kind of wild looking. They got $400 for that one, which I was so thrilled because I’ve never sold one before. I usually give them away. I’m glad they can get something for them. For me, it’s just fun to do. I can get lost in it. It’s like being in another world. It’s good therapy. It encompasses you.”

Langeman, who has arthritis in her ankles and hands, said painting helps her hands because of the constant movement.

“When you really love doing something, nothing stands in your way,” she said.

Langeman, an education major, took an art course at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.

“My roommate happened to be an art major,” Langeman said. “I had to do art work for an advertisement, and the teacher said, ‘That’s not your work, that’s your roommate’s work.’ I said, ‘No, it’s not. It’s mine.’ Anything I did in the class she never gave me an A because she figured it was my roommate’s work. So, I thought I didn’t want to have anything to do with art, until we had five kids and I was homebound. I started painting on glass and painting little jars. It was cartoony-type stuff that I did. I got into doing crafts and I used to sell a lot of crafts.”

Langeman said two stores in New York and one in Connecticut regularly purchased her crafts. There would be items such as mice dressed in vests. She taught crafts at a community center in Richfield, Conn,

Langeman is from Flushing, N.Y., and her husband, Walt, is from Canada. They met in Fort Wayne while he was attending Indiana Tech.

The couple, who have been married for 60 years, moved to Carmel from New Jersey in 1987. Their youngest two children, Michael and Cindy, graduated from Carmel High School. The oldest three children are Debbie, Nancy and Carol. Carol and Cindy live in Pendleton. Debbie and Nancy live in Fishers, and Michael lives in Carmel. Langeman has 20 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Langeman taught third and fourth grade at St. Luke’s Catholic School  in Indianapolis.

“I taught religious education for 58 years. COVID put me out of business,” Langeman said.

When she stopped working, she was the coordinator for the second-grade religious education program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

When the couple opened Langeman’s Deli and Bagel in the early 1990s, Langeman didn’t have time for art, working 75-plus hours a week. They had three locations at one time.

“I’d start at 4:30 in the morning and sometimes I wouldn’t get home until 10 at night,” she said. “We met some lovely people because I was in the deli part. The one at 86th Street and Ditch Road was a goldmine. It was close to the hospital, and we closed at 2 p.m.”

However, she said when a new owner bought the Greenbriar Shopping Center, it wasn’t renewing leases. The last Langeman Deli, which was open for dinner, was on 79th Street in Indianapolis.

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Active PrimeLife member

Susan Langeman said she spends four to five hours a week painting.

Langeman also participates in four classes a week in water aerobics.

“I used to do six classes, but they changed the time for art class and the water aerobics and they didn’t coincide,” she said.

When she saw the PrimeLife painting class, it piqued her interest.

Walt said PrimeLife has spurred his wife’s painting passion.

“PrimeLife is a godsend. There are so many elderly people and that’s their only means of communication,” he said. “There are so many activities.”

Although she admitted she might be biased, Nancy said her mother’s paintings are phenomenal.

“She creates the artwork and my dad frames it for her, meticulously cutting the backings and wrapping the hangers,” Nancy said.