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If the rectangle layer you create is a shape layer you can not paint on it unlest you convert it to a normal pixels layer by rasterizing it.
Thanks, I am aware that I have to rasterize a shape layer before I apply a brush or pen to it. I was trying to use a project created in an earlier version (PS 2105.5) and realized that I cannot modify projects created in previous versions of PS. I'm back using PS 2015.5 so all is good.
There are a number of things that could cause this.
The bush blend mode in the options bar would be my first guess.
Brush opacity and flow my second guess.
Is the foreground colour the same as the image background?
Are the layers locked?
Are you using a tablet, and if yes, do you have the pen the right way round? (sorry but have to ask)
What is the image size? If it is huge (30,000 pixels) then a 1 pixel brush would not show if zoom is at fit to screen.
If you create a new blank document, does the brush work in that? Image documents can go weird sometimes. If you have done a lot of work already, then grouping all the layers and duplicating to a new document can fix this.