I am trying to select the brush tool in order to remove a portion of the color photo that is beneath a (black) mask, however the icon for the tool is different than the tutorials I am learning from which are based on Essentials 10. Instead of the same brush icon, the tool is called a smart brush and I cannot make it work like I see in the video. What am I doing wrong??????
You're looking in the wrong place. The smart brush applies image adjustments to the area you brush over. The regular brush is just above the smart brush. The smart brush icon has gears on it. The regular brush icon is a regular brush (or you may see the pencil, impressionist brush, or color replacement tool icon, since they all share the same slot in the toolbox).
It’s not available in PSE8 but you can find a work around by choosing:
Layer >> New Adjustment Layer >> Levels OK
Then select the regular brush and make sure your foreground color is set to black.
You can then erase parts of the mask as required.
There are also several add-on tools you can use to give you layer masks in older versions of PSE. Grant's tools are free, and elements+ includes a number of useful additions for a small charge, for example.
Grant's tools are at http://www.cavesofice.org/~grant/Challenge/Tools/Files.html
The layer mask alone is well worth the free price !
Here is a tutorial and video on using an levels adjustment layer as a layer mask in photoshop elements 8: