I discovered a nice smooth service to work on that I believe would be just right for your needs. It's called aguabord (by Ampersand) and it comes in a variety of sizes. I buy the one that is 1/8th thick. It is a solid piece of masonite with I think some kind of white paper type glued onto it...anyway I think that's what it is. But the surface is very smooth and easy to draw on. Buy a small one and test her out...you are going to love it!!! I have worked in acrylics and water color and color pencil and ink...tho the ink tended to rub off on my finger tips...think I need to find me a better pen. Let me know if you try it.
Just to add, I generally work with the board standing in my lap while it is leaning against the table edge. That way I can get "close" to my work. My eye sight isn't that great anymore.