foxhound, can you use any other artisan tool? like the sculpt surface tool. maybe your pen (if you use a graphics tablet) is too sensitive. if it is black, it means that the weight is 0. try flooding and see if it turns grey. and you might want to use the clamp values and turn both of them to 1.0 and see if when you paint it turns white. it could be a graphics card problem. oh and if you dont mind, disable all the xp slowdowns - let is optimize for speed and not for good look (what microsoft alone considers good look). not sure where to find it in the english xp, but somewhere control panel->system->enhanced->visual effects or similiar.
hope you get artisan to work with paint softbody weights. oh, but one thing i miss - is that stupid warning - my maya always prints the annoying warning that - you can use this tool only if you created the softbody with goal weight. even when i did that