If you've enjoyed the miniatures I've been posting lately, but have felt too intimidated by the cost or difficulty, it's probably much easier and cheaper than you think.
1. Paints: Watch any painting tutorial and you'll likely see the painter using numerous paints AND still mixing paints to get the colors they need. A single pot of Games Workshop paint is as much as $7.50 and there's also the problem of the pot drying out before you've used much of it. I've been using the Army Painter paint set. 50 paints (including washes and metallics) and a brush for $99 (21% off at Amazon). I've been happy with the paints, plus they come in droppers instead of pots so they don't dry out as easily and you won't knock one over by accident.
2. Other equipment:
Wargamer Most Wanted Brush Set: Three brushes of various sizes for $13.
Self-Healing Cutting Mat: I use this to paint on. $10.
3. Miniatures: Games Workshop miniatures are expensive, require a lot of assembly, and are difficult to transport. A better choice for beginners is prepainted plastic miniatures. They require no assembly, they're fairly robust, and they might be painted well enough that you can experiment just by repainting parts of them. You can get lots of Heroclix or Wizards of the Coast Star Wars miniatures extremely cheap at ebay.
4. Wet palette: You may find that your paints dry too quickly, especially if you're mixing colors. Making and using a wet palette is incredibly cheap and easy:
5. Painting: There's an endless number of tutorials online. Here's a series I like: