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Try Gimp, its free. Its a huge improvement from Ms Paint, but a bit less of an improvement to PhotoShop. I find its the closest free thing you can get to PhotoShop and i personally like it just for creating logos and such.
It depends on what you’re trying to do exactly. I use the following for the listed tasks:
Image manipulation: Photoshop (or Gimp)
Tablet-based drawing/illustration: Paint Tool Sai
Basic pixel art: GraphicsGale
Also, considering you want to use the mouse, I really recommend going into vector art. You can’t (not without a lot of practice) just draw a smooth curve with the mouse. Vectors and paths fix this, in that regard..