Nina Krebs: Painting Her Story

When Nina Krebs attended Benicia Arsenal Artists Open Studios in May 2022, she already knew about the Benicia art scene. A visit to Benicia artist Connie Millholland’s studio that day led to the two artists moving into a studio later that summer. “I’d heard about Benicia forever,” she admits, having lived in Sacramento, and now in Walnut Creek. The two artists are planning a joint exhibition called Stories in Paint at Art@Archer, located at 431 13th Street in Oakland. The show runs from October 6 through November 25, with receptions planned for Friday October 6, 6-9 pm, and Friday, November 3, 6-9 pm.

“Each of my artworks has a story behind it, maybe based on a dream, maybe an experience. I’m painting my story and offering it to the viewer to create their own experience.” Inspired by Betty Friedan, Krebs considers herself a second-wave Feminist and incorporates the theme of female empowerment into both her artwork and writings. “My series Soaring Woman, which represents the dreams and abilities of women, is a feminine equivalent to Burning Man that I came up with. As I understand it, by building a monumental “man” temple in the desert and ultimately burning it, Burning Man creates opportunity to release the past and move on. That feels constructive to me. I’m thinking of the feminine version as more transcendent — moving through or rising above life’s struggles and blocks. It’s a self-motivating force where creative energy ascends and transforms.”

Good Vibes, painting by Nina Krebs

“Good Vibes”

Cymbal, painting by Nina Krebs


Krebs’ upcoming show contains acrylic and mixed media paintings.

Some contain collage effects created with torn strips of discarded painted paper or fragments of musical scores. The paintings incorporate representational images, symbols or motifs that convey meaning, painted over layers of abstracted backgrounds.

Born in Arizona, Krebs earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Arizona State University and a doctoral degree in counseling psychology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In 1971, she moved to Sacramento, where she was a psychologist in the counseling center at California State University, Sacramento. She was one of few females in the field at that time. After five years, she went into private practice with her husband and other colleagues in midtown Sacramento. 

Retirement in 1998 provided an opportunity to indulge in creative passions including art and music.

She signed up for a composition class that she hoped would improve her photography, only to find out that all her fellow students were painters. It was her first experience drawing and painting. She later took classes in various studio media and graphic design at Sacramento City College. “I studied with Chris Redding and took 130 semester hours of classes over a ten-year period. I just went through the curriculum. It was a very supportive community.”

Soaring Woman Blue, painting by Nina Krebs

“Soaring Woman Blue”

Soaring Woman Summer, painting by Nina Krebs

“Soaring Woman Summer”

Krebs’ diverse work includes prints, paintings, sculpture, and large-scale installations. Her most recent installation was a series of intricately woven and braided spider webs, each 30 feet across, prepared in-studio then installed in various natural locations. “What I created had a lot to do with opportunity. I did quite a bit of printmaking, but that involves equipment. So now I gravitate toward painting because it’s easier. I really loved doing installation, but that requires other people and an environment and all kinds of stuff.”

Krebs took up music again after not performing for 40 years.


“My 70th birthday present was a vibraphone,” she says proudly. “I had played piano before but had a lot of arthritis in my fingers. I’d played percussion in high school and always loved the vibraphone.” In addition to weekly vibraphone lessons, she plays “auxiliary percussion” with the Diablo Symphony; instruments such as suspended cymbals, triangle, bells, whatever is needed for each performance.  “I’m searching for ways to connect music and art, to combine those practices in some meaningful or nourishing way.”

When Krebs retired, her husband was showing signs of Alzheimers, and her caretaker duties were a significant part of her life for many years. She has recently published her fifth book, an inspirational memoir of this period of her life titled Shades of Love and Loss: Caring for a Partner with Dementia. Her partner passed away in 2020.  She is grateful that her daughters, Erica Schafer and Karen Fleming, live nearby.

Nina Krebs sits at a table with glasses on her face and a lavender scarf around her neck

Krebs has some ideas about women’s issues to explore in new books, but writing isn’t at the top of her list at the moment.  “I love painting, and I love playing music, and I don’t have enough time to do either!” You can learn more about Krebs at

Feature image: “Tambourine”