During the 1930s Vaughan worked for an advertising agency, painting in his spare time, and was largely self-taught as a painter. He remained outside the main current of British painting until the latter half of the 1940s, when he became friendly with John Minton and Graham Sutherland and was influenced by them. He had his first solo show in 1944 and from 1946 he taught at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. During the 1950s his style became flatter and more abstract in the manner of de Stael. Patrick Heron wrote: 'He found his excitement in the formal complexity of two figures, one seated, one standing, perhaps. And indeed one may say that he found his landscape in the limbs of those figures - because they are what chiefly expanded under his touch.' In 1954 he designed an abstract ceramic mural for Corby New Town, Northamptonshire, and in 1958 he obtained the 'Design of the Year' award for woven fabrics. He was Resident Painter at the State University, Iowa, in 1969 and in the same year joined the staff of the Slade School. In 1963 he was commissioned by the London County Council to do a mural for the Aboyne Road Estate and in 1964 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal College of Art. He had retrospective exhibitions at the Mappin Gallery, Sheffield, in 1969 and at the University of York in 1970. An exhibition at the Waddington Galleries in 1976 combined a gift for fantasy in paintings based on the poems of Rimbaud and Baudelaire with near-geometrical abstractions reflecting landscape mood. Vaughan's work is represented in public collections worldwide including the Tate Gallery.