I've tried tiling window managers before, and I haven't been happy with them (especially with how they fail to deal with transient modal boxes), but I'm going to give them another shot. I followed the Ubuntu 12.04 + Gnome instructions, and set up stumpwm a couple of days ago. I've changed the control key from C-t to F12. It's still a little confusing, and I keep clicking on windows to focus on them (maybe there's a switch for that?), but the experience isn't terrible this time.
Maybe my feelings will change the next time I fire up Gimp, though I see someone's posted an example config for that on the wiki.