I'm always looking for easy ways to make digital artwork and paintings. People always seems to need artwork for flashcards, games, picture dictionaries, and classroom posters, but using clip-art is not always appropriate.
My mother was a painter, and recently that's made me want to try to teach myself how to do digital illustrations. I called Mike Blum in our IT department, who recommended a painting tablet from Wacom called Bamboo Fun.
Bamboo Fun really is fun. For $99, you get the drawing tablet, a cordless, pressure-sensitive "pen", and a CD with Corel Paint and Photoshop Elements. It all seems pretty easy to use, and I really enjoy trying to reproduce the look of watercolor or pastels.It helps, of course, if you have something to draw from, even if it's just a photo. Corel Paint also has a feature where you can import a photo and trace around it, which is great for making coloring books.
I've obviously got a lot to learn still about painting, but having the right tools is a big help. Maybe if I keep practicing, my next drawing of a duck won't look so sick!