Vayreda studied drawing in Girona, in the Fine Arts School of Olot, and in Barcelona. In Barcelona he met Martí Alsina, with whom he later collaborated. In 1868, he moved to Olot, where he created the Olot school, devoted to painting the surrounding countryside. Between 1871 and 1874, he lived in France, having exiled himself due to the Third Carlist War. There he became acquainted with the Barbizon school. Upon returning to Olot, he became the provincial deputy of Girona, at the same time as he gained success as a painter.
Vayreda's early work consists primarily of religious scenes and costumbrismo. Only later did he dedicate himself to landscape painting. His work is considered a precursor to the avant-garde in Spain. His Olot Landscapes (Paisajes de Olot) resemble a Catalan version of Camille Corot, particularly after his encounter with the Barbizon school. His works are dominated by browns, ochers, greens, and earth tones. His works include Procesión de colegialas, La siega, La primavera, Los primeros pantalones (1871), El bautizo y el verano (1877), and Flores de abril (1881). Apart from oil paintings, Vayreda also made ink drawings, watercolors, and etchings.