Nice to meet another new person interested in this nice miniatures ...so Welcome!!!
Here has many great painters!!they can give you better suggestions...here mines
Abaut the paints... I prefer "game color" from Vallejo, not expensives and easy so find in many shops (including Mithril shop).Take a look in their web...you can donwload their catalogues: www.acrylicosvallejo.com/en_US/downloads, (don't forget their "chainmail" color to use in your metallic parts)
Brushes...I'm using citadel from far...but you have many other brands,probably you need to begin with a detail brush(small areas), a medium brush (armour,cloths,skin...)and can be good another medium brush,to use as "dry brush" (and old brush medium size, can be perfect to use in this purpouse)
Relative with the miniatures....I suggest you begin with "mithril classics"...you can find very nice miniatures in this range!!(Their orcs are my fovorites)
When you choose your miniatures...you can expend some time in internet and youtube, and find some tutorials to give you interesting ideas!
Nice music,good light...and...enjoy the moment!!! this is the most important!!!
Strider, I would start by collecting the LOTR miniatures that you like the best, get the ones that are still available from Mithril first, because once they sell out the ebay price will go up. Many of the miniatures are no longer in stock and can be found on ebay, or by posting lists of the ones you want on this forum, many other collectors are happy to help you! A good list of the complete line is available at mmp.faerylands.eu/ This will tell you the rarity of each piece. When selecting brushes, I look for a nice sharp tip, there are many brands to choose from. I also buy paints from many different sources including craft paint at a hobby store, I then mix the colors to get exactly what I want.
I would add, that if you have read LOTR or The hobbit, you can take a look at the boxed sets that Mithril has, in particular MB236 and MB237. They are a great start (I started my collection with them, ages ago).
Also you will need some superglue (almost every brand will be fine) to glue the swords, and other little pieces depending on the miniatures you take.
Brushes that will serve you will be from sizes 1 to 000, maybe a 2 if you need to paint something bigger. And remember to not paint from the pot directly, always dilute the paint with a little water on a palette/plastic/ceramic whatever surface.