I use a Trust A5 tablet witha graphic pen and Photoshop Elements 6 with quite a lot of plug-ins. My most important plug-ins are Topaz simplify and Topaz clean which give a picture a painterly look.
I started out a conventional artist and can still use watercolors, airbrush, pencils and oil. but digital is so much more accurate. For me the graphic pen was like the granting of at least three wishes by a friendly djinn.