Blender's UI is not exactly intuitive. You definitely need to watch a tutorial video in order to get started. The effective workflow is centered around keyboard use. Reading the docs is super boring, so I watched the very first tutorial to find out what the main mouse and UI structure were, then switched to a tutorial about making something, and followed along haltingly, pausing whenever I needed to find a function. I later discovered the tutorial was post-2.5 and I was using the "stable" 2.49, right before a major UI overhaul. Oh well, I learned a lot by looking around for those nonexistent functions.
Also, it's nice to see someone else's logical structure imposed on 3D rendering. It helps mentally cluster the kinds of things that wind up being done in textures vs. what winds up as a post-process effect, or a lighting effect, especially you can push a lot of stuff from one to the other if you're trying to do something specific.
Blender is an open source product, but it is much much nicer and more stable than the open source things I'm accustomed to. It's as if it were a commercial product that had been worked on for years by dedicated professionals and then was open sourced when funding ran out, but the original lead continues to work on it. (Ha ha, yes, I already found out that was indeed the case.)