Born in 1958 on the Pas Reserve, some 400 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Bignell was a self-taught Cree painter.
He developed his own style of working with watercolor through the use of sponges, where he created flowing images of birds and other wildlife, evocative of spiritual influences. He once said "my art is strongly influenced by the traditional ways of my people. I was brought up to live off the animals and the spirit and the power of nature."
He died at age 37 in 1995 from a concussion he sustained in a fall down a flight of stairs.