Most often the inspiration for most oil portrait artists came from everyday instances and people around. Often flowers in a painting were used for more complex purposes. In paintings such as the Pre-Raphaelite by Millais of Ophelia the flowers present around her aren’t just for decorative purposes. They have been used to convey much deeper meaning. To name a few, crow flowers symbolise ingratitude, the weeping willow represent forsaken love, the nettles symbolise pain and daisies floating near her right hand represent innocence.
Thus oil portrayers of those times created a mental imagery of complex emotions and used everyday people to represent these.