I do wooden boat models. Not sure about the scale. Midwest makes a nice line of stuff -- various skill levels. Start with something simple. You don't want to be overwhelmed by an excessively complicated model. It never gets finished..
I find that painting things as I go along -- like the hull, doing water lines, etc., makes things MUCH easier. If I can pre-assemble and paint something like a cabin, etc., before I mount it, all the better. Recently, I've been using the tape you use for automotive pin stripes for things like water lines. It is very difficult to paint/mask thin lines and have them look good.
I try to do as much with spray paint (gets smoother finish) and blue painter's tape as I can. Good paints are important. I like the Testor's paints for little stuff, and Rustoleum makes a variety of colored enamels in small cans. I generally stick to oil paints, though I do break out my acrylic artist's stuff when I need some weird color. I did a model recently of a screw pole lighthouse (St. Michael's MD), and needed a matte finish paint to simulate corroded copper sheeting.
Good small (#0, #00, #1) artist's watercolor brushes seem ideal. A.C. Moore, or Michael's are good places. Stay away from the cheap hobby/ water color brushes.
I find it is a good thing to have a place where you can leave stuff set up, so you are not putting things away all the time. A good fishing tackle box works nicely for tools, etc., or one of those big boxes for art supplies.
Spray painting is best done out-of-doors, or in the garage with the door open. Newspapers over a garbage can work nicely as a "spray booth." Testor's make small spray cans of various colors. Especially good for stuff like plastic plane models. Somewhat expensive, though. Hardware store stuff (Krylon, etc.) works fine, especially for things like white, black, priming.
Tools are everything...