Mary and Ryan - pick and choose how far you want to go with this. Arne has demonstrated extreme skill with his painting talent. Maybe you are up for that, maybe not. I have painted a few bases as well, but very simplistically. The end results are still super duper nice. I say this to not steer you away from Arne's approach, but rather to give you alternatives if you want to "dabble" in painting a base prior to going all in. You can still get excellent results with a simple can of Rustoleum; not nearly as nice as what Arne is doing ( to Arne), but still quite nice. This will be more to whet your appetite on painting bases, whereas Arne has taken it to a whole new level.
I might also recommend trying your skills on a China base first. Why ruin an Aristocrat base which comes from the factory with a certain level of elegance?
Here is my write up for painting a base - http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/painting-lava-lamp-bases