Absolutely you can paint over brass. I even purchased a mini chandelier in brass as it was exactly what I wanted in style, but wanted a brushed nickel finish. Rustoleum has the best "brushed nickel" paint specifically for painting metal. I used 90% rubbing alcohol with a microfiber cloth to remove any dirt or oils from the existing finish. No other preparation is necessary. Just tape over the electrical wires and any other areas where you don't want/need paint. Most importantly, don't be in a hurry and use plenty of ventilation. Shake the can really well and do an initial spray on a rag. The trick is to spray from more of a distance than instructed to produce a very fine spray with minimal coverage. You will have to spray from every angle so it's best to have room to walk around the piece. Give a couple hours between coats to ensure the previous coat is perfectly dry. In this application, a "coat" is just a term as the application is so fine that three or four applications over time would actually constitute a coat.
Finally, attach the light in a position overhead to inspect it as it would be viewed from below to make sure you haven't missed any spots.
This really is a simple job with great results. Overhead lighting is ideal for painting as it isn't handled. Hope this works for you and have fun with it!
I just realized you are painting a fan and not a lighting fixture. Same rules and instructions apply.
Last edited by PCMLR; 10-14-2010 at 08:47 PM.