Well if you're going to want to do digital art, I don't really think the Kindle fire is something you should look at. From a tablet perspective, it's kind of locked down when it comes to apps, as I understand it. The Kindle Fire is more like a suped up kindle out of the box. You can customize it to run straight Android as I understand it, but it's feature set isn't really suited to a budding artist.
That price range is flexible, there are a few options for you if you're patient and don't mind doing a little extra legwork, then you might want to consider the Lenovo Thinkpad T2.
For 239, it's pretty close to your initial budget. The one seen here means you have an active digitizer. To save cost, they sell the stylus separately, but it does have one. That's going to make a lot of difference when it comes to trying to do painting. It's 16GB for about $239.
If you don't mind not having a stylus, then you could also check out the Google Nexus 7, which is about $199.
My best suggestion is to start with doing a little research in determining the features you want, and what you're willing to do with and without. It isn't good to decide based purely on price. Waiting another month and going without a few things opens up more options, than trying to stick with a dollar amount.
Ebay is a good place to start. A lot of times, you can buy a motion computing tablet like the M1400 or the LE1600 or Le1700 for a price in that neighborhood. They're older models, but they do have pens and will run most programs if you don't mind buying used equipment.
Believe it or not, Youtube is also a good place to start looking. Just do a search on "Drawing with a tablet" Or "Drawing Tablet" You'll see what I'm talking about. If you happen upon a model with the features you like, then you have a jump off point to start looking.
With a little research, you should be able to find something that suits you. I'm not touting any of these in particular. I do own a M1400, but I need to replace the screen on it because it's a little old, but I'm a computer guy so that's no big deal to me.
But if you want something new, and accurate for the price you indicated, then I would definitely recommend the Wacom bamboo create.
it's on sale for $179 right now, and Wacom is the best out there, no question. I've had the bamboo from a long time ago when it was only 512 levels or sensitivity, but now it's up to 1024 --and you have touch manipulation so you can rotate and zoom with just your fingers on the tablet.
There are so many tablets and graphics tablets out there, that it's tough to say go specifically with this or that. I'm sure you know already something of what I'm talking about. The best advice I can give you is to take a look around and don't be afraid to ask a question or two. I'm sure you will find something you can work with with a little diligence.
I would go with a pen tablet. The kindle is nice, but there really isn't any artist benifit and having an actual pen tablet will be a HUGE help for getting started in digital art. I recommend looking into either the Wacom Bamboo tablets, or the VisTablets. VisTablets give you more bang for you buck, in my opinion. They're just as good as Wacom's, if not better, and they're less expensive.
I just dove in head first and hoped. XD I did start using tutorials after a bit, but most of it was just exploring programs on my own and just figuring things out by trial and error. I've been doing digital art for around sixish years now, and while I am at a good place in my work I know I still have a lot to learn. It's very rare for any artist to be able to make things turn out like they see them in their head. Generally once you start creating things will change. I am happy with my work though.
As for learning the actual rules of art I advise studying from life. It doesn't matter if you're drawing humans, objects, or landscapes. Studying from life will help you improve. Stick to realism at first, then once you've got a good grasp of realism you'll be able to warp things into a style you like. Study color theory and perspective as well, and composition.
When it comes to digital art, do not make the mistake that many people do of thinking it will somehow be magically easier than other types of art. It takes just as much work and dedication as other mediums. Don't worry about making anything finished and awesome right off of the bat, you'll just disappoint yourself. Take time to just play around and get used to your program and tools.
I didn't see a way to edit - but i forgot to add a few things...
I'm interested in learning digital art as well as just how to doodle/sketch stuff well on paper. I am not opposed to reading books. I want to learn the actual principles and rules (persof art (at least the ones that will apply to sketching and digital art).