I highly recommend Fractal Painter or Fractal Dabbler...I understand
both programs are put out by MetaCreations, and that they have a
mid-level program entitled Painter Classic. Dabbler is a great
beginning program that is vector based and 'real' media. Painter
Classic is a mid-level program, and Painter is the most sophisticated
program. I would rate it at the same level as Photoshop, but it is
'real' media based and very user friendly.