Balsam is very thick, deep amber colored
liquid that is added to oil paint and oil paint mediums for a
tough, jewel like quality. The most famous balsam is
Venice turpentine from European larch tree. Although this type
of balsam is called turpentine, it is nothing like
famous balsam or Venice turpentine
Venice turpentine (the most famous
balsam) has the consistency of thick honey and sets and dries
rapidly. This means that this type of balsam should not be used
in great quantity or in alla prima techniques where the oil
paint artist works on the oil paitings for a long period of
time. This balsam should be used moderately and in small areas.
It adds tough and flexible quality to oil paint.
example of balsam oleoresin is Strasbourg
Again, although the name of this balsam is
'turpentine', Strasbourg turpentine is nothing like turpentine.
Strasbourg turpentine is like Venice turpentine but comes from
a different fir tree in Central Europe.
Now Strasbourg turpentine is a rare balsam.
However, before the 19th century, Strasbourg turpentine was the
balsam oleoresin preferred by most oil painters.