Why so expensive? I had the same question last year. I have used a French Easel for several years. I really love everything about it. But having the opportunity to go to Hawaii, I wanted something much smaller I could put in luggage at take across the miles of ocean. I looked around at many brands, finally found one I really liked. But the time it would take to order and get in my hands was too long, since I had a departure date. So... I decided to make one. Gathered parts from Home Depot, Asel Art Supply and Hobby Lobby. See basic materials below. I made the box, took to Hawaii and painted 6 small, 9 x 12 panels. Really enjoyed God's awesome creation, painting around the island of Oahu, and the paint box worked very well. It was everything I needed it to be. (Panels held in place by small bungees, which allow a wide range of panel sizes)
However, when I added up all materials, the cost was about the same as if I had bought one. Since I love creating, building, making things, that was fine with me. Reminded me of this...
"YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." II Timothy 5:18